As of this writing the state House of Representatives passed the Oregon Health Authority budget and passage is pending in the Senate.
As Governor Kitzhaber said in a statement released yesterday, "this budget opens the Oregon Health Plan to more low-income Oregonians in 2014, ending the health care lottery that created health care winners and losers. Combined with the coming launch of Cover Oregon, the state’s health insurance exchange, this means we are on our way to 95 percent of Oregonians having coverage, increasing their economic security and reducing medical debt, which is good for the whole state."
Additionally, in the budget, growth in per capita health care costs is reduced by 2 percentage points below predicted growth – through improved quality of care. That is below the growth rate of years past and shows Oregon is a leader in holding down costs while improving care.
The budget also provides more resources for community mental health services, particularly for children and adolescents. You can see initial coverage about the budget in the Statesman Journal’s article here. And after the budget is final and the legislative session ends, there will be much more information available.
In the weeks to come we will hold webinars, and provide materials and training sessions for OHA and DHS employees about what this budget means for the people we serve, those who will be newly eligible and for the local communities – for both Medicaid and community mental health.
We will also be working closely with our state's coordinated care organizations and local partners.
In the meantime, I know that many of you are looking forward to the holiday. As the weather finally turns toward sun and warmth, have a relaxing time and be reminded of the freedom and independence we collectively celebrate as a nation. And I cannot say it often enough – thank you for all you do.